Building Connections with Concentric Circles | Facing History & Ourselves
Uniformed students work together in class.

Building Connections with Concentric Circles

Students build connections with their peers by sharing small details about themselves in paired discussion.


One 50-min class period


  • Advisory
  • Civics & Citizenship
  • English & Language Arts
  • History
  • Social Studies




English — US




About This Activity

The feeling of belonging grows when we discover connections between ourselves and the people around us. In this community-building activity, students will engage in several one-on-one conversations with their peers in order to share small details about themselves: foods they like, places they’d like to travel, things they’d like to learn. Creating the space for students to forge connections will foster a positive class culture where students feel seen and heard.

Preparing to Teach

A Note to Teachers

Before teaching this lesson, please review the following information to help guide your preparation process.

Before beginning the activity, consider leading the class in a discussion about active listening. Ask the class to create a list of active listening behaviors they can practice during the activity. While students are discussing in concentric circles, use positive reinforcement to identify examples of active listening. If your class has not yet created a classroom contract, revisit the topic of active listening when you begin drafting class agreements.

This activity uses the Concentric Circles teaching strategy. If there isn’t room for students to form a circle in your classroom, have them form two parallel lines or conduct the activity outside or in the hallway.

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Steps for Implementation

Before asking your students to move into two concentric circles, explain that they will introduce themselves and have short paired conversations that respond to questions you will provide. Each student will have 30 seconds to answer a question (or longer if you prefer, as long as both circles have equal time). 

Have the group form two concentric circles facing each other, and explain that after each round, one of the circles will move in a clockwise direction so that everyone is with a new partner for the next round. Students should start each round by introducing themselves to each other and end each round by thanking their partners. 

After one time around the circle, you can challenge your students to start the next loop by saying, “Hi, ______ (name)” if they remember the name of the individual across the circle from them. Alternatively, you can mix them up and create two new circles so they meet with some new students for the second round. Repeat the process until you run out of questions or are ready to move to the next activity.

Choose from the following set of questions, or create your own. Then project or say one question per round. 

  • Who was your childhood favorite character from a book, show, or film, and why? 
  • What makes you laugh? 
  • If you could run the school cafeteria for a week, what would you serve? 
  • If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? 
  • If you could be a character in a movie—any kind of movie—who would you be, and why? 
  • What is something that you would like to learn how to do? 
  • If you could only eat one meal or food for the rest of your life, what would it be? 
  • What’s the nicest thing anyone has done for you? 
  • If you could visit any time in history, when would it be? 
  • What would you do with your Saturday if the Internet went down (everywhere) for 24 hours? 
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?

Have students return to their seats and discuss the following questions as a class: 

  • What did you like about the activity? What did you dislike?
  • Did you discover something surprising about your classmates?
  • Did you discover something you have in common with your classmates?

Extension Activities

Give students the opportunity to brainstorm new questions to ask their classmates. This can be done independently, in groups, or for homework. Have students submit questions to you and incorporate them into your daily warm-ups as students get to know one another and you cultivate a classroom community.

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